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Odessa school discusses capital plan

ODESSA-MONTOUR--The Odessa-Montour school board held a workshop session Thursday, Dec. 3 to discuss what they would like to see accomplished during their next three-year capital plan. While the board did not establish a set plan during the meeting, they discussed several improvements they would like to possibly address during the next three years. Some of the areas discussed included the school roof, underground storage tanks, concrete work and window replacement.
In the 2015-16 school year, Superintendent Chris Wood said the district is already committed to work on the track and the bus garage roof, adding the voters have already approved these measures.
"There is no turning back on those," Wood said.
Wood went through a list of possible ideas for the board, breaking down certain items into what he thinks are necessary projects and other items that could be included in a "wish list." Other items on the list, like possible turf for the athletic field, Wood said are not going to be included in the capital project because they are not crucial to the day-to-day function of the schools.
One of the ideas he suggested was for the removal of some of the concrete and pavement in the main entryway between the main school and elementary building to replace it with some natural grass. He said this would help cut down on resurfacing costs.
Wood noted for the 2016-17 school year, there will be a new regulation requiring carbon monoxide detectors within the school buildings. He said this will be a necessity for the school to work on, describing it as an unfunded mandate. Wood added when they sit down as a committee to discuss the capital plan, there may be certain non-essential items they can take out of possible auditorium work to cover the cost of the carbon monoxide detectors.
Also on the 2016-17 wish list is for concrete work on the steps in back of the school by the band room, by the auditorium and in between buildings where the loading dock is. Board member Robert Tuttle said the loading dock especially is deteriorating to the point where it is close to not usable, adding the district could be in a lot of trouble if a chunk were to fall and hit somebody. He said the concrete work should probably be more of a priority rather than a wish list item.
Another possible item is window rotation, with Wood noting some windows have not been changed in the building since 1989. The board discussed having someone look at the underground fuel storage tanks in the district to let them know how long they have and what work may need to be done with them. Wood also noted the district needs to have their roof looked at to see what parts of it may need some repair, and how long the district could wait before the work would need to be done.
For 2017-18, Wood discussed the $900,000 the district has to work with from the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA), noting the possible projects they would like to address exceed that number. He said they will meet with their technology director at their next board meeting who will report on this whole process, where the district is going and how they decide what their priorities are.
"$900,000 is a lot of money to me, but $900,000 is not going to get us a lot," Wood said.
Toward the end of the workshop, Tuttle brought up the possibility of adding a school resource officer at the district. Wood said while he would love to have an officer at the school, he does not know if the district will have the money to hire one.
"I just don't see that happening," Wood added.
Tuttle expressed his concerns if there was ever an active shooter situation in the district, noting he does not know if locking the door and pulling the shade is going to be enough to deter an attacker.
"Everything they tell us in safety training, it doesn't matter if you have a cop or an army there," Wood said. "All you are trying to do is buy time."
School Board President Robert Halpin also added he is not sure how effective an officer at the school would be in a shooter situation, adding the one instance of mass shooting in Schuyler County occurred at the county office building, with the sheriff's office right next door. He said he thinks an officer would provide a false sense of security, adding he would rather use the money for safety training or to put security film on doors and windows to make it more difficult for an attacker to break through. Wood added he would also rather see more cameras at better angles to increase security. He noted the district is also currently working on new safety packets for BC Cate and the main complex, anticipating the plan will be complete by next year to practice with the school staff and faculty.

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